With the launch of the new website, the BSFA is also pleased to be implementing one of five diversity and anti-racism motions passed by the membership at the last AGM (August 2020).
The BSFA will be partnering with the African Speculation Fiction Society, the Africa Reading Group, the London Chinese Science Fiction Group, Bubble Tea Writers, AfroFutures UK, CoFutures, and potentially other organisations, to make a number of BSFA memberships (initially thirty) freely available to members of these organisations (for UK residents) or at reduced rates (for those living in the EU, Commonwealth, and UN Least Developed Countries). We have chosen these partners in the hope of making BSFA membership more diverse and representative, as well as to strengthen ties and perhaps building toward future collaborations.
BSFA members can participate in our writers groups (Orbiters), receive our print publications (Vector, Focus, Fission, and the BSFA Awards booklet), nominate and vote in the BSFA Awards, and inform the direction of the BSFA by participating at Annual General Meetings. Memberships available through the participating organisations are available both to existing BSFA members who are renewing, and to those joining for the first time.
We recognise that in the case of some partner organisations, "membership" may be quite loosely defined. If you are in any doubt about taking a membership, please feel free to do so. We're leaving it up to applicants' individual judgments, and we won't be filtering or policing in any way.
We are pleased to be joined by many kindred SFF organisations who are placing diversity, decoloniality, and racial justice at the heart of their thinking and policy, e.g.:
We recognise that the terminology of diversity in particular, while widely recognised and generally signalling good intentions, is also justifiably controversial. Like other umbrella terminology (including PoC, BAME, BIPOC, and VME), it can be useful in building coalitions and in formulating policy to resist systemic racism, but can also erase distinctive identities and histories, or feel alienating, condescending, or exclusionary. It may also implicitly perpetuate the sense of whiteness as a reality that exists independent of the specific histories, politics, and economics that have produced and continue to produce whiteness.
As Saeed et al. (2019) put it: "We will continue to be dissatisfied with these words until we live in a world where race is not something that can shape your life experiences, and then these terms won’t matter at all. But we don’t yet live in that world." Meaning is always plural, and shifts across contexts and over time, so sensitivity, adaptability, and open-mindedness — including a willingness to adopt language while it is useful, and let it go when it's not! — allows imperfect tools to build a better present and a better future.
With this initiative, we are implementing the membership's decision to "offer support-in-kind to BAME fans of science fiction." For more information about the other four recently passed motions, please see this post on the Vector site. We welcome queries and ideas from anyone who would like to get involved. In particular, we are seeking to appoint a Diversity Officer; if you are interested in finding out more about this role, please get in touch with our Chair Allen Stroud at email@example.com. We are also seeking to appoint several Councillors for a more arms-length role in steering the Association.
The BSFA will also be establishing a Participation Fund, and will soon be seeking donations to make available even more Community Memberships, as well as to provide financial assistance for convention and conference attendance.
Finally, if you are involved with running an organisation or group that would like to query about Community Memberships, or explore other collaborative initiatives with the BSFA, please get in touch! This includes scholarly, fan, and writers groups in the UK, EU, and around the world.